By Deann Barr, 184 IW - 184 Intelligence Wing
/ Published February 17, 2009
Lt Col Mike Tokarz, 134 ACS Commander, presents the recovered flag to Mr. Gene West, Chariman of the County Commissioners and fifth generation Greensburg resident.
Nearly 18 months after recovering a flag from the rubble left in the wake of the May 2006 catastrophic tornado, members of the Kansas Air National Guard presented the restored Old Glory to town leaders in a Veteran's Day Ceremony on Nov 11, 2008 at Greensburg High School.
Attended by the entire 200-person student body of Greensburg, Mr. Gene West, Chairman of the County Commissioners accepted the flag on behalf of the community.
"That is one thing we don't have much of here any more, is part of our past," said West. "We are very pleased to have part of our history returned to us, to have it become part of our future. It's really important to us."
In the days surrounding the disaster, many members of the 184th Intelligence Wing from McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas worked in Greensburg providing relief efforts to the town of 1400 which was destroyed by a level four tornado.
A local man approached a 184th Guardsmen with a flag he had picked out of the rubble, and asked the Guard to tend to it. SMSgt Bill Angstadt said they took the flag back to base, had it washed and mended, then folded into a display case. To him it seemed fitting to return the flag to the community during the Veteran's Day ceremony.
"I hope returning the flag helps bring closure to the disaster for this town," said MSgt James Helms, an Honor Guard member who participated in the presentation ceremony. "Hope can come out of bad things, and that flag, based on what it stands for, brings hope," said Helms.
The flag will find a permanent home on the walls of the new Court House once reconstruction is complete said West.
"It's awesome," said Peter Blanton, a Greensburg Physical Education instructor. "It's our community coming back together."
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